Rhea Co Middle School teacher turns himself in on charges of statutory rape
UPDATE: A former Rhea County Middle School teacher is accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a 15-year-old middle school student.
Billy Hoffman turned himself in to the Rhea County Sheriff's office Tuesday morning. School officials said they suspected something was wrong between the 7th grade teacher and student as early as May. They contacted authorities and removed Hoffman from the classroom immediately.
"I was contacted by the principal of Rhea County Middle School," said Inv. Rocky Potter, Rhea Co. Sheriff's Dept. "I think he conducted a smaller interview with the teacher and he felt it was something I needed to look further into."
Hoffman was suspended pending the investigation, school officials said he immediately resigned May 5. After conducting several interviews, authorities believed Hoffman was having inappropriate contact with the student. Deputies couldn't say if the alleged contact happened on school grounds or not, their investigation is ongoing. A Rhea County grand jury handed down indictments Monday for two felony counts of "Statutory Rape by an Authority Figure" and two counts of "Aggravated Statutory Rape."
"The school in my opinion did a good job," said Potter. "Just as soon as they had information, they acted on it and I was notified immediately,"
In a statement to Channel 3 Rhea County Director of Schools Jerry Levengood said: "Mr. Billy Hoffman resigned his teaching position in Rhea County on May 5, 2015. Any comments about his legal issues need to be addressed by the Rhea County Sheriff's Department. We are cooperating with them completely. This story, if proven true, saddens me because in no way does it represent the good things that are happening in the Rhea County School System."
School officials say Hoffman passed his mandatory background checks, with the TBI and Department of Children's Services to be hired and in the last 7-years he's been employed, there have been no other complaints made against him.
"We've not had any reports from anybody," said Inv. Potter.
Potter tells Channel 3, it's important to stay involved with your children's social life, keeping a close eye on their relationships especially if they're connecting through social media.
"It's very important in today's electronic age... you need to be in their Facebook apps and see who they're talking to," said Potter.
Hoffman bonded out of jail on a $50,000 dollars bond Tuesday. He did not return our calls, for comment.
Officials say he is due in Circuit Court, June 5th.